Halos 'really pleased' with Packy's 1st start

September 2nd, 2021

ANAHEIM -- It was a tough draw for Angels left-hander Packy Naughton in his first Major League start, as it came against the Yankees and opposite ace Gerrit Cole.

Naughton, who had previously made two relief appearances this season, fared well early, but he gave up three runs on six hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings in a 4-1 loss in Wednesday’s series finale at Angel Stadium. He was coming off a solid outing against the Padres last Friday, when he threw 4 1/3 strong innings of relief. And while this appearance wasn’t quite as sharp, Angels manager Joe Maddon still liked what he saw from Naughton.

"I was really pleased, actually,” Maddon said. “He threw about 60 pitches, and then we turned it over at that point. But he demonstrated the makeup we had talked about. He had pitchability with the sinker and the changeup off the sinker. I thought he did a wonderful job."

Naughton, who was acquired in a trade with the Reds last August in exchange for outfielder Brian Goodwin, grew up in the Boston area, so his matchup against the Yankees was extra special for him as he grew up a Red Sox fan. The 25-year-old was satisfied with the way things went, despite taking the loss.

"I was talking to my parents and my brothers about it earlier today. It was absolutely incredible,” Naughton said. “To go up against those guys and some future Hall of Famers in that lineup and to go against Gerrit Cole, it was a dream come true. To be honest, it was surreal."

Naughton opened the game with two scoreless frames, getting help on a double play in the first and notching two strikeouts in the second. But after two quick outs in the third, he ran into trouble after walking DJ LeMahieu. Anthony Rizzo followed with a single to right, just past first baseman Jared Walsh, and Aaron Judge walked to load the bases.

Naughton gave up a two-run single to Luke Voit on a first-pitch changeup, as Voit beat the shift with a single to the right side. Naughton then got Joey Gallo to pop up to end the inning.

“The walk hurt him,” Maddon said. “He gave up the ground-ball base hit with two outs. They did not beat him up.”

Naughton came back out for the fourth, but he was removed after giving up a two-out RBI single to Brett Gardner. With the top of the Yanks' order coming up, reliever Andrew Wantz came in and got LeMahieu to ground out to short to escape further damage.

"I'm never going to be happy giving up runs, but my body felt good,” Naughton said. “So all in all, it was a decent outing, I guess. Unfortunately, I didn't get out of the jams I needed to."

It’s unclear if Naughton will get another start or if he’ll head back to the bullpen, but Maddon saw enough that he would be fine if Naughton sticks in the rotation.

"We haven't moved it out there yet,” Maddon said. “I would not be disappointed in any way if we did, but I don't know right now where we're going to go with the rotation the rest of the year. But I thought he represented himself really well today."

The early deficit was too much to overcome for the Angels, who were overpowered by Cole. The right-hander, who grew up near Anaheim and was pursued heavily by the Halos in free agency before the 2020 season, struck out 15 over seven innings of one-run ball.

But Maddon was still happy to see the Angels come away with both the series victory and the season-series win against the Yankees after winning on Monday and Tuesday. He liked the fight from his club, despite it not being in postseason contention in the final month of the season.

"I'm really pleased we just won a series against the Yankees in September,” Maddon said. “That's not bad. It's actually pretty good. And that's in spite of missing some key components, throwing a bullpen game and using a bunch of pitchers we haven't seen all year. Over the last three days, I loved the energy and the way we played. Cole was good. That's what he's paid to do. He's all of that. And their bullpen was outstanding. So give them credit, but I want to give our guys credit, too."